News Flash: Organic Diet and Lowered Cancer Risk, and More Health News

Every week, we’re bringing you a roundup of the latest health and wellness news to hit the wire. This week, we look at new research that shows just how bad not working out is for your body and another study that shows fewer cancer diagnoses in those with an organic diet.

Not working out is worse than smoking, diabetes and heart disease

Have we got your attention? In case you needed more motivation to get active today, here it is: Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic found that being unfit posed a greater risk of death than the risk from being hypertensive, diabetic or a current smoker.

Researchers retrospectively studied 122,007 patients who underwent fitness treadmill testing at the Cleveland Clinic in a 23-year period ending in 2014, to measure all-cause mortality relating to the benefits of movement and fitness.

The results, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, were surprising, said Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic and lead author of the study. “We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this,” he told CNN.

He hopes this research prompts doctors to view being unfit as just as much a risk (if not more than) as many chronic diseases.

Jaber said the other big revelation from the research is that fitness leads to a longer life, with no limit to the benefit of aerobic movement. Researchers have always been concerned that “ultra” exercisers might be at a higher risk of death, but the study found that not to be the case.

“There actually is no ceiling for the benefit of exercise,” he said. “There’s no age limit that doesn’t benefit from being physically fit.”

For patients, especially those who aren’t active, Jaber said, “You should demand a prescription from your doctor for exercise.”

Could a pesticide-free diet cut your cancer risk?

Sure, you tell yourself you’re doing your body a favor by springing for those organic berries and kale, but until now, there wasn’t much proof of the benefits.

A new French study of 70,000 adults—most of them women—over a five-year period found that the biggest consumers of organic food had 25 percent fewer cancers than those who did not eat organic at all.

Those who ate the most organic fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat and other foods had an especially big drop in the incidence of lymphomas and a significant reduction in postmenopausal breast cancers, according to a report in The New York Times.

The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, is preliminary and does not prove an organic diet causes a reduction in cancers, but it “strongly suggests that an organic-based diet could contribute to reducing cancer risk.”

Participants provided detailed information about how frequently they consumed 16 different types of organic foods and the portion sizes over three 24-hour periods in a two-week period. They also provided details about their occupations, education, income and other information such as whether they smoked, drank alcohol or had a family history of cancer, to help researchers make adjustments to account for these factors.

Even with these adjustments, those who ate organic most often had 76 percent fewer lymphomas, with 86 percent fewer non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas and a 24 percent reduction in breast cancers after menopause.

Still, experts say, more studies are needed that test pesticide residue in study participants to validate exposure levels from a non-organic diet.

And what’s most important is getting more Americans to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables (organic or not) to help prevent cancer, says Dr. Frank B. Hu, chair of the department of nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Photo credit: Elijah O’Donnell, Unsplash